Online retailers are already working on business strategies for the Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday online shopping weekend months in advance. These three days are the busiest online shopping days for retailers, bringing in nearly $6 billion in revenue combined. An online retailer’s worst nightmare on these days, in particular, is to lose business by overloading their platforms and losing customers because of long load times or crashes. SMBs can look at how retailers prepare and manage massive traffic influxes for insight into running a better online presence.
1. Do not launch a new service or platform when you expect to be busy
A robust testing and QA process is a business’s best tool to releasing features like a website update, a new software implementation, or a new hardware system as seamlessly as possible. However, some problems don’t reveal themselves until your business has pushed changes into the wild; in other words, your business doesn’t want to introduce new features that could expose problems at a busy time.
Therefore, it’s better to go with a “soft launch” for new implementations than try to run a high-traffic promotion to show off something new. Introduce new features and sweeping changes at a time when your company expects business to be slow.
2. Sometimes “bells and whistles” need to be dropped to stop from damaging functions
People tend to love “bells and whistles” features because they can take a boring product and turn it into an exciting experience. The more improved visual experience is great until it becomes detrimental to the performance. For example, retailers like Amazon will actually disable some of the rich content features on their product pages over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, which simultaneously reduces the amount of work the servers complete when generating pages. This allows customers to load pages with minimal delay.
Retailers have to keep in mind the “user experience,” which includes the process of using a service as opposed to focusing on how it looks. SMBs can take this philosophy to heart when approaching technology: provide the best “form” as possible as long as it doesn’t impede “functionality.” A visually striking product preview page won’t do your business any good if customers refuse to sit through a long load time.
3. Don’t be a victim of your own success
Website overloads on Cyber Monday are a particularly great example of how a business can become a victim of its own success, which SMBs should keep in mind when running promotions. Unless a website’s hosting infrastructure is built with scaling potential or uses a CDN, a huge traffic spike can bring the site offline which translates to lost potential business and a negative brand impression.
Retailers typically use performance testing and monitoring strategies to prepare their platforms for massive traffic influxes. SMBs should keep a “ready-to-grow” philosophy in mind concerning their web presence because opportunity can strike at any time. Bracing for traffic spikes is particularly important when running social media promotion campaigns: if your business goes viral, you don’t want to miss out because your website is overloaded.
Whether your business is looking for opportunities to keep up with growth in cloud computing or seeing if new software would increase productivity, the IT consulting experts at MPA Networks are ready to help. Contact us today!